Thursday, 28 February 2019

Gray Edinburgh

After sunny days, most of them missed by me, I wander out today under gray leaden skies with a chilly wind annoying.  I suppose we will have snow sooner than April.  
This is annoying as I have to spend the next couple of day cleaning the place.  My niece is bringing her boyfriend on Sunday (Sunday with football on?) for some reason.  She comes once a year to see if I am alive and if there is any money, she is disappointed in both.
So tomorrow I must finish the bathroom work, the sinks, dust everywhere, then hoover the dust piles, polish woodwork, tidy books and other things lying around, iron shirts, wash others first, put out the rubbish and open the windows.  
I am worn out already.
If luck is with me I will force feed them in a local cafe, if it is open and if it is not crowded with the local ageing Mods who gather there occasionally with their scooters.  That saves giving them e.coli and time and effort.  
But what is she after this time?

Because of the work done on our behalf by the noble parliamentarians the Parliamentary Standards Authority has given them a 2.7%pay rise, around £2000 each.  This means they will be getting just under £80,000 a year each.  Now personally I consider that small beer for an MP.  People who decide Law and routine purposes in life ought to be rewarded with a great deal more than that.  I would suggest a minimum of around £150,000 -£200,000 for such employment.  Of course with a nation under austerity that would not be appropriate, however that would not stop this lot, and such a rise would be unworkable in today's situation.  Also so many of these 'workers' have other jobs.  Lawyers take time of to make ten times their salary on a case, doctors run off to rip of private patients and almost all have 'directorships' that bring in the cash for little effort bar their name on the headed paper.  The advantage of bigger wages would be by tempting in those who earn a great deal more now in their employment, even if they were only MPs for five years or so.  The present lot have sold out for or against Brexit and have little self awareness to take a stand on any principle of any kind.  As such I am not sure they deserve a wage increase and new blood, with principles would be good to have.

There is something bout old photographs that are catching.  I refer to pictures of places you once knew.  Here is Edinburgh, 'Up the Bridges' as we used to call it near Tron Church, where lots of major stores once wasted much of my mothers time.  I like such photos as we can compare how things have changed and yet over a hundred years on they remain the same.  
My dad would have been two years of age at this time, 1910, the world was advancing in so many ways, scientifically, socially, economically and it is clear from the picture three men have done reasonably well out of things so far.  I wonder who they were?  How come they can stroll along during working hours while others, on little pay, work?  It is clearly summer, the old man is wearing an overcoat, the younger ones are not.  Watch chains protrude from the waistcoats, hats are worn indicating class, successful men but in what I wonder.
The buildings remain the same I guess, shop names change, goods change but the basic function remains as always commercial.  The lighting will have improved, surely that is gas lighting but how would the 'Leerie' get up that high?  Could it be early electric street lighting?  The cobbled streets are famous in Edinburgh, especially on the northern side where snow aids the buses as they slither down through Stockbridge on frozen cobbles.  The traffic however is considerably less, walking there would result in a few words from a bus driver and the horse and cart is now replaced with 7.5 ton vehicles delivering goods.  
Many changes but instantly recognisable and made me cogitate for a while.

Wednesday, 27 February 2019

Yellow Flowers

They say the weather will begin to deteriorate tomorrow so when I saw the bright yellow Daffodils beckoning me out I sauntered across the park and snapped a few.  The sun was as warm as a decent summers day and it crossed my mind that April will bring snow as it usually does.  
Kids were cycling small pink bikes, mums pushing pushchairs, some sitting on benches wrapped in coats just in case, and high above a thin white streak in the bright blue sky carried 200 or so people towards Europe.

'Europe,' that is what we now call the EU and many round here are desperate to abandon to its fate. Sadly these 'Daily Express' readers have yet to understand that they are the ones being abandoned. If this Brexit goes ahead there will be no 'sovereignty' just Donald Trump and chlorinated chicken!  The idea that anyone has sovereignty in this world is plain daft, everybody is tied to everybody else one way or another and this is how it has always been.  It is difficult to keep up with the constant niggles in the House but I had to laugh when Savid Javid was in front of a Commons committee.

Stuart MacDonald SNP, to Sajid Javid: What’s wrong with the amendment?
SJ: Nothing. 
SM: So now the Gov't’s supporting it? 
SJ: Yes. What do you mean, “now”? When was the gov’t not supporting it? When did you hear that? SM: Yesterday. 
SJ: From who? 
SM: The Prime Minister. 
SJ: Did you?!

Here we have the Conservative Home Secretary, one of the Four most important jobs in the cabinet being informed of the Prime Ministers thoughts from a member of a committee as he had not been informed of her opinion from the day before.
I suppose too many in the cabinet were shouting others down and she forgot to indicate what the policy of certain matters actually was.  I wonder if she has changed her mind to agree with Savid or whether she is travelling somewhere and canny mind who he is?

India and Pakistan are flexing muscles (I wish I could) and threatening one another in Kashmir again. This is not new, this has been going on since 1947 and was badly handled then and is being badly handled now.  Much loud talk of both sides having nuclear arms but the option of using them is unlikely.  Many more aircraft shot down, bombs dropped, the wrong people killed as usual but I doubt nuclear war is near.  Pakistan is a confused nation, led by the elite who fight among themselves, leaders chances of being killed by those around them a real possibility.  India facing elections and will seek to 'be strong' and killing a few Muslims goes down well with the Hindi nationalists, especially these days.  Many more to die, many more shouting matches and then peace, it is too easy for India to win - again!

Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Cold February

Standing at the museum door watching young women shove ice creams down their throats I pondered the freezing cold February weather. In some places it reached 70% today, at my computer this morning I considered it higher than this.  If Trump does not believe in global warming I am now all in favour, as I have been for some years.  This does not stop me from realising that we will however have snow, probably serious snow, in April as always.

The day went well.  I coughed less than I have done for weeks,the management ran away to a meeting and left me in charge (ha!) and those that came in were decent enough not to be trouble.
No kids today for me!
I taught one lass how to find what she required on ancestry, scanned briefly three large volumes of hand written history on a local company, very impressive I say, and then rushed through Tesco to finish the day.  Finish being the word as I fell asleep as soon as I got home.
How nice to have a near normal day.
Tomorrow it is back to reading about ancient church disputes...

Monday, 25 February 2019

Watling Street Fail

Books about travelling across the country I like.  They offer an insight to places I have never been or if visited a differing viewpoint.  The authors opinions are never far away and when done properly we see something of the world around us tat we do not notice for ourselves.
This book fails in that endeavour.  
Under Dover's white cliffs listening to his daughters enthusiasm for history, something the writer fails to comprehend, he decides to seek some out by wandering along 'Watling Street' an ancient roadway that runs from Dover to Anglesey in north west Wales.
To be successful the author must describe the area, the people if any and the history, especially notable stories from the past.  While the author here does some of that most of the book is a boring reference to any play, story, film or literature that crosses his mind revealing John Higgs failure to get out into the world to see what it really is like.
Canterbury, London, Milton Keynes and so on are dealt with always with reference to a book or TV show based there.  The reality of the life around him is ignored while pages are wasted on repeating such storylines. 
Even worse is his open mind on any occult event which he finds fascinating leading him to waste many pages on people who are clearly possessed by demons, and I do not say this lightly.  One believes a dead prostitute, if that is what she is, comes to him and gives him poetry and words. Another writes science fiction and clearly is considered by the writer to be a man of real wisdom although to me he comes over as one of those bores who are always right and people ought to listen to him.  A third is also admired but to be honest much of what was written I got fed up with and moved on.
If John was not meeting weirdo's and finding TV plays in every corner, he was afraid to enter an aged Barrow in Wales as it brought to mind 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' and snakes falling on his head.  Any archaeologist hearing that may well be somewhat miffed.  In fact when inside the Barrow he stands beside a Piller that he decides is the centre and brings to mind '2001' the film, and ends up hugging the 'centre' in 'tree-hugging style.'
I am afraid to write what I thought by this time.
From waxing lyrical about 'England,' he called it 'Britain' but we know what he meant, he wanders around spouting his opinions almost all influenced by books, films and TV stories.  What was in front of him and the long history behind them appears to have failed to really hit home.
It is no surprise his 16 year old daughter spends a lot of time looking at her phone...

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Lazy day...

The dank mist hung around this morning worrying the birds as they sought breakfast.  I watched from the safety of my bed until breakfast for me dragged me sleepily into the kitchen where for once plenty was to be found.  
However tiredness would not leave and instead of going out to change the world, buy needful things and potter around I soon went back to bed which turned out to be the best idea.  Quite why I got up in the first place has puzzled me ever since.

I returned to enquiring re churches.  I had an email from the museum concerning a man who is researching churches of old.  This had me searching for books, most of which I could not find, and will force me to search the library, not very good, to see if any books there can help.  
Some churches go back to the days of the Saxons, the man requesting information has all info on that he says and I now have to look for the info that I canny find.  I keep finding things he probably knows, but will get again, and will have to dip into history for the growth of churches since the reformation.
This could take time...
Otherwise I have merely attended to the disappointing football results and will then return to bed where my mind lies...


Thursday, 21 February 2019

My Latest Fad!

I hobbled into Tesco today to obtain some of my latest fad - energy bix!  You see footballers and others eating such as these to give them energy and I doubted they really work.  However on Tuesday after standing about for hours in the museum and stumbling home worn out and weary I settled in my bed in the evening, having fed reasonably well, yet still feeling out of sorts.  I turned to a 'Maxi Muscle Promax' bar and within a short while I felt great!  That one was called 'Millionaires shortbread' for some reason but it was worth the £2:50 they overcharged me for it in Sainsburys.  
Sadly Tesco did not have these so I will try this lot.  If these work I will seek cheaper suppliers though I doubt they exist.  There is a warehouse full of these in the town, I worked there once, very badly and very slowly, but they will not sell them to me.  I suppose eating properly would help but one of these with coffee will enable me to make it through the day - probably...

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Life is Black and White.

I came across this evocative picture today and had to stop and seek out others.  This is one of the great Bert Hardy photographs and all are well worth a browse.
Bert Hardy was born in Southwark before the Great War and was to become famous for his work in 'Picture Post' magazine during the 40's and 50's.  Before the days of TV news reporting came from short 'Pathe' or 'Gaumont' newsreels in local cinema's, the only alternative fro those seeking pictures was magazines like the 'Picture Post,' a magazine that brought many famous photographers to fame.  

Bert took many pictures around London offering a view of the people he grew up amongst.  During the war he even climbed to the top of one of those long fireman's ladder to photograph the inside of burning buildings during the blitz.  This was the first time his name was added to the pictures, usually the photographer's name was omitted.  His pictures, clearly some posed, do offer a caring view of Londoners at the time.

'Picture Post' began to slide after the war when television began to arrive.  There was also trouble from an article by James Cameron accompanied by Hardy photographs taken in Korea during the war there.  This did not give a one sided view of the conflict and indicated one side was as bad a the other.  Soon afterwards the editor departed and sales began to drop.  By 1957 the magazine folded but TV was then dominant in the land.

Hardy served time in the army as a war photographer landing in France on D-Day and eventually reaching Belsen.  He then went to the Far East.  After the war he returned to the magazine until the end and for a while dallied with advertising pictures but in 1964 he retired and became a farmer.  Hardy died in 1995.

Bert Hardy was one of the great documentary photographers, few can match him.  His black and white pictures, taken often in dangerous places, will catch the eye for many years to come.  It is a shame there are so few books around filled with his pictures.

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Kids Day

I opened the doors at ten and fell under the crush of kids, mums, push chairs, dads, grans and granddads who were waiting outside.  We never stopped and by 11 am I had had to reprint all the paper 'trails' we were giving out, refill all the 'stickie' labels and still they kept coming!
My reckoning claims around a hundred thousand came in today but this might be inaccurate.  The fact that they were still coming in long after I left at 2 pm tells us that we touched on a popular subject this time.  
I was weary when I arrived, an hour short of sleep, and was posted giving out the trails and setting folks in the right direction.  My knees did not like standing all day but I really enjoyed today just the same.  Most of the kids were young ones, mostly under 9 years, a great many under 5 years and they were easy to please, few were unhappy and for most this did not last.
A magician was on hand with card tricks which proved popular, one lass aided the kids making cupcakes, she had to run back to Tesco for more six times but the first thing all kids liked was 'cupcakes!'  In the big hall many more made magic wands, each and every one in the hands of a three year old designed to 'take someone's eye out.'  
This I think was an excellent day even though the quiz was too difficult for most and I had no clue as to what it was about.  Still they all appeared happy, mums and dads, including the dad who was constantly chasing his 3 year old this way and that, all smiled and were determined like the kids to get a free sticker at the end of the day.  It is amazing how getting a sticker cheers a small child!
I am now attempting to find something nourishing for my hulk.  The kids will sleep well tonight, mum and dad will sleep well tonight but none will sleep as well as I will!
Wake me on Thursday!


Friday, 15 February 2019

Thursday Afternoon Work

Thursday, when attempting to sleep of my cough, I was dragged back into the museum to cover for the women, all the women, who had taken the day off to have their hair done!  Valentine's Day and they were on the make.  However much to their displeasure not all the women could skive as there was a meeting arranged for councillors in an attempt to get their attention on the museum.  The many great works in which they are participating affect us and two lassies and the manager, who did not require having his hair done, called the meeting to harangue the council.
So I was left on my own with all the work.

One couple on a day out and a local wasting time were all the visitors, at least once the councillors had decided to arrive.  These were an interesting bunch.  Some I knew, intelligent women with, shall we say 'drive,' who have been 'getting things done for thirty years,' others rather younger and much better looking who will be the same in thirty years time.   Council men came and went and one or two ought to 'went; as far as I am concerned.  Just how do these people get elected?  Some are capable and others make me look a genius, so that says much.  Almost all are Tories, and many look like it, but one appeared to be like Farmer Jones who had never moved out of the suburbs, most worrying.  
Will anything follow from this meeting?  Maybe...
Today I am resting my cough.  Why do these coughs not go away?

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Googling Maps...

I find it surprising how often I refer to Google Maps.  This device to keep track of my movements, send advertisers to my laptop and keep the FBI aware of my activities has been a boon in so many other ways.  It is not just the local police who can follow me around if they so choose.  These maps enable me to find my way around and I use them daily these days.
During recent months I recall searching out the many places wherein I was once employed, you note I do not use the word 'worked,' this took me back to 1966, too far back for any of you to remember, where I noticed the dim dark fire hazard dwelling that housed my first employment remained dim and dark but in an amended and hopefully less hazardous condition.  Almost all others since then have disappeared and were now housing blocks of flats or small housing estates, the one in North Finchley asking around half a million for a house where I once lugged 15,000 bricks of the back of a lorry by hand, not by myself I may add. Whether anyone realises or cares that under their feet once stood a tank containing petrol for the council vans possibly does not really matter.  The only time that mattered was when the delivery man put diesel in the petrol or was it petrol in the diesel tanks, that mattered a lot to the stream of small vans that died before they left the depot. 
Google maps allows me a remarkably close view on how the world has changed since those days where managers would cheerfully smile while slapping something down on the desk muttering “These are for you.” The days of those insurance cards have thankfully ended.

Google maps are great if you wish to visit somewhere new.  A glance tells you transport links, items of interest and places to avoid.  In the days before such marvels the tourist could wander around a town missing all the good bits and find themselves wallowing in the midst of dank depressing lower-class Britain from where they originated and wish to escape from, at least in my case.  Google saves you that.  With hand held expensive phones in direct contact with both the US and Chinese security systems this makes wandering around much easier than in the days of aper maps.  This system allows you to pick the spots worth visiting, allowing for the Google cameraman only visiting places when the sun shone, and hoping he choose to wander down all the streets you fancy. 
Those house buying would find the maps a great boon also.  Do you remember the lovely cottage on sale by the sea near Dymchurch a couple of years ago?  The pebble beach, the small flowers, the sea, the distance from everyone else, the condition of the house, large rooms, well maintained, all one could possibly wish in such an area.  It was therefore unfortunate that the photographer forgot to include the nearby Nuclear Power Station situated about a mile behind the house.  This may have influenced buyers.  Google maps helped in such circumstances, power stations, roads, railways, scrap yards, petrol stations, schools and other unwelcome happenings are often missed by estate agents for reasons unclear, the maps aid the unwary here.

I found the maps particularly useful when reading about ancient Eridu, the oldest settlement in Sumer.  The map of Iraq, if you work hard at it, shows all those old settlements along with more recent ones such as Nineveh or Babylon.  Fantastic to see such sites from the desk here, especially when rain hits the window and temperatures drop, at that moment watching a dry hot desert under 120 degrees of sunshine can be enthralling. 
Those who take time to study such maps can find themselves lost as I often am staring at out of the way places such as St Helena and wonder why on earth people live there?  There again the world is full of strange and inhospitable places often teeming with life, how do folks end up there and why do they stay?  Why indeed do they fight savagely to keep it to themselves I wonder? 
The way the maps attempt to display the land at the bottom of the sea is also quite extraordinary.  Lines run across the bottom indicating the clash of plates below and the huge number of volcanoes and potential earthquakes especially in the Pacific region.
Similarly watching rivers run down mountains catches the eye.  Mountainous Costa Rico looks high and lush but there was a man in a wheelchair, surrounded by dogs and sheep, bossing people around at one area I noticed.  The USA was a wonder, it intrigues how people could cross such a landmass, plains, hills, deserts and survive yet alone create what some call ‘civilisation’ on that vast acreage.  Nice of the civilisers to keep ‘reservations for the Indians’ even yet.  Apart from those Trump has run oil pipes over of course.  Tucson, Arizona, offers an aircraft boneyard.  Here military aircraft are laid out for observation from above and to lie ready for use sometime in the future.  B52’s and the like sit there burning in the sun’s dry heat.

Early man trekked vast distances, sometimes through the need for food or shelter sometimes just to see what was over the hill.  When you study the size of the world it is amazing how he moved so far in a relatively short time.  Of course so little evidence has been found and many conclusions jumped to that we really don’t know much about how he spread, nor how he managed to change colour to so many different hues.  We were informed at primary school this was because we were black but lost the colour as we moved north into cold regions.  Hmmm I wondered then how Indians were brown and Chinese yellow?  The equator runs across many of them also. 
A TV programme offered a trip on a train into the north of Siberia, the furthest north you can travel that way.  Some of the workers when challenged about the cold just shrugged their shoulders and laughed that anyone would query working there.  They were used to it.  Siberian troops were brought by Stalin from the Japanese border to defend Moscow in 1942 and they thought fighting in minus 8 degrees was warm!  They had experienced minus 40 regularly.  Excuse me while I huddle the heater.

You might be surprised to note that I have made use of Google while searching for Great War sites.  To view Ypres or Mons from the air and to compare with old maps or photographs is an interesting waste of time.  I especially like looking for remnants of old trench lines which have not yet been obliterated by the plough.  It is amazing what remains as well as what is now no longer visible.  
This adventure can take a lot of my busy time sadly. 

Monday, 11 February 2019

Monday Blues

I spent some time this morning standing at the window waving my coffee cup at those trudging up the road towards their employment.
Some of them waved back but not I fear in the correct manner.
I commented to one or two regarding how blue the sky was and how lovely to see the sun reflecting off the green stalks of the coming Daffodils, how unfortunate they would be to remain indoors on such a day, these too gave somewhat unloving responses and pulled their coats tighter around them.  Quite why women with short skirts tighten their coats while allowing their legs to freeze beats me but fashion does not make allowances for weather I suppose.
I joined them, some time later, and waltzed around Sainsburys coughing my way to the 'Strepsils' counter.  Then carrying my bag, heavy with Brexit stockpile, I made my way home in the sun past the unsmiling shoppers.  All those retired men pushing trolleys for their wives, bored, lost and deciding day time TV is not as bad as they once thought were filling the alleyways blocking folks like me carrying a wee basket, always quicker, and knowing for the most part where everything was.  This of course did not stop me from getting home where I remembered the things I had forgotten - again!

I enjoy much of what I hear on Radio 3, especially late at night but there are times the pretentious nature of 'art' discussions gets up ones nose.  Is there any subject in which nonsense is aired in such a grandiose manner?  Books, theatre, films, pictures, anything which pretends to be 'art' is discussed as if it were of some importance, I am here to tell you, and anyone who listens, that it is not!  
'Art' in all its forms has a place, pompous nonsense re art has not.  Those who consider a piece of string with a black ball on the end hanging as 'art' are not seeing a 'new way of viewing' they are just talking baloney.  This is worse if someone actually pays for it.  'Art' costs money, big money, so I suggest any artist, or rather any art lover out there who wishes to purchase my two photogra art works can do so if they have lots of ready cash.  One is called 'Freedom' and the other is a 'Reflection on Divided Society.'  No checks, used notes only please.

p.s, My photos are just dust particles hovering about in the sunlight but don't tell anyone.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Lunch, Football Books and Doves.

As one of the near million or more who opened a can of beans today I began to cogitate on the worth of this fine food, a food that was is so important to our health that during the war it was declared an 'essential foodstuff.'  It has been essential in my house for many years.
Somehow beans grown in South America made it to Europe during the 1500's, possibly by being swiped from Spanish and French ships by English pirates, and bean stew became popular world wide, the world being Europe and the Americas and the rest did not matter much.  Haricot, also known as 'Navy' beans for some reason are covered in tomato sauce and make a complete dinner for many in the UK.  This tells us much about them!   
Heinz, who sell the most, and probably many 'own brand' types also, claim that around 50,000 tonnes of beans arrive annually for their Wigan factory from the Americas, a fact which might change come Brexit!  Their sauce is based on a US model which originally contained pieces of pork (pork & beans still on sale somewhere)  first produced in the UK by Heinz in 1928.  The beans had first been sold as an expensive foreign import in 1901 by Fortnum & Mason at 9d a tin.  Considering some earned around £1 a week then (with 240d to a £) you see how pricey it was.  Today Heinz and other charge considerably more but wise folks like me buy own brand beans, considerably cheaper and if you don't like the sauce ad a bit of imitation Lee & Perrin's sauce to spice it up a bit.   Even the English queen likes the beans and has given Heinz a Royal Warrant, she always has some on order, probably for Philip.
Pie and beans, meaning a Scotch mutton pie, was a staple of my diet in Edinburgh, in this wilderness these pies are unobtainable and the English mince pie is frankly disgusting!  Therefore my diet suffers.  Being cheap and flexible they cover a lot of mistakes leaving me feeling fed even though no restaurant would remain open if they offered what I ate.  I however suppose it is possible to live on a diet of beans?  If this is cheap I may give it a try.

Someone indicated a book might be missing from my collection.  This usually means they have nicked it so I had a quick check and all the appropriate books are in their rightful place.  It may be someone did not look close enough....

Someone was watching me with the tins of beans muttering "I'm game for dinner" and when I looked he had hopped it.  I wonder if he had obtained the wrong idea?  He ought to know we don't eat birds like him these days...usually...

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Thirsty Thursday

Christmas time saw the wine cupboard overflowing.  I had almost a third of a bottle of 'Laphroaig' whisky sitting there as it had been for several years 'Laphroaig' being one of those whiskies you take occasionally.  Beside it sat a near empty bottle of 'Highland Park' that arrived at Christmas last, also a half bottle of cheap French Brandy that took my fancy one day.  Today this is all that survives!
I drink rarely and sparingly yet since Christmas a few weeks ago all has gone including this years  'Highland Park' which has only a small drop left.  This thanks to Man Flu!  
Tomorrow when I reach Tesco, if indeed I make it, I will have to spend money to refit as the cough remains alongside other unwelcome symptoms.  This one takes a while to go and I am right fed up with it.  It is costing me a fortune!

I'm right fed up with this bint pretending she is doing something in Europe when it is all games to her.  The 'Black money' behind Brexit will win, she is most likely part of it, and soon this mess will reach fruition without something sensible happening and the UK will soon be defunct.

This is not a good negotiating position to be in yet that is all she can offer.  With big business heading for Holland or Slovakia, Paris and Berlin the tax haven she and her dodgy peers seek will enable the elite to prosper while we suffer, and that under US authority, it is what Brexit is all about - their wallets and serfdom for the rest.